ASSESSMENT OF COMMUNICATION AS A STRATEGIC PUBLIC RELATION
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Communication is regarded as effective tools in public relation. Most organizations in Nigeria today tend to perform poorly due to lack of information dissemination strategies. According Richter, (2000), communication is the process of meaningful interaction among human beings. It is the act of passing information and the process by which meanings are exchanged so as to produce understanding. Communication is a process which requires a sender, a message, a medium and a recipient. Though, the receiver may not be involved or aware of the sender’s intent to communicate at the time of communication; it is expedient that the communicating parties share an area of communicative commonality. Thus communication can occur across vast distances in time and space. On the other hand communication is very important and may have significant effect on effective public relations procedure. The term “Public Relations “was used for the first time in the United States and the United States Post Office Railway Union and in the first decade of the twentieth century, this country was created the office of public relations at the institute. In 2006, the first private company which the public services offered to its customers was created. In 2007 Association of Public Relations (IPR) provides a definition of public relations, which is still used. In this definition, PR is planned and continuous efforts to establish and maintain goodwill and understanding between an organization and its target audience (Skandari, 2004). Words “planning” and “continuous” show that goodwill and understanding itself does not obtained easily and in fact, must “create” and “maintain” and also determined that public relations activities are planned and the purpose of public relations is to create goodwill and understanding. Most organizations in Nigeria always fail to implement good public relation strategies and thus a collapse in information communication processes among the organization, the satff and the general public.
2.0 Objectives Of The Study The main aim of the study is to examine communication as strategic public relations. Other specific objectives of the paper are:
1. to determine the relationship between effective communication and strategic public relations in an organization
2. to investigate on the factors affecting the public relations practices in an organization 3. to determine the extent to which effective communication has improved organizational performance 3.0 Concept of communication Communication is a means of bringing about change. It is the mainstream of any organization growth. There is need form interaction and understanding of management-employee relations this will bring about increased performance of all parties involved in the communication process or chain. According to Banihashemi (2011), communication as a medium, a means to performance ends, or as constitutive, as the end in itself. Communication is a process of transmitting information from one person to another. According to Stephen (2011), communication is a critical factor in directing and mobilizing the workforce towards the accomplishment of the organizational goals or objectives. By creating understanding it enhances co-operation and promote effective performance. According to Williams (2007) smart managers understand that the end effective, straight forward communication between managers and employees is essential for success According to (Mckinney, Barker, Smith& Davis,2004)communication is essential to effective team performance and communications for any organization is like blood flow in the human body. Therefore any organization that understands the importance of communication uses it in their organizational environment. Since, it ensures coordination of factors of production and most importantly material and human elements of organization as an efficient network of change and advancement. According to Snavely (2001) as cited by Robins(2006), communication process is initialed through the following means the sender-encoding-the message-the channel decoding-the receiver- noise and feedback. It is estimated that managers spend over 80% of their day communicating with others. Since most of the basic management process- planning, organizing, leading and controlling cannot be performed without effective communication. Importantly, the relevance of communication keeps advancing as the world becomes a Global village. The need to become visible to the world has made many organizations to embrace new technology that would increase organizational performance. There are also many issues affecting communication ranging from difference in sex, role of silence, inference of government and cross- cultural inference. Many of sure organization is the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, as it explores the e-learning and e- training to empower its staff and student in the use of the internet in communicating policies, lectures, staff development and lot more. This would stand as a mile stone for the university as a whole networked for effective communication and performance. Therefore it becomes important to emphasize on innovation and effective use of communication medium or channel to bring about high performance rate. Hence any breakdown in communication process or chain can have serious adverse effects on organizational performance. Communication In The Organization According to Banihashemi, (2011) all aspects and points to effective communication in the organization, it gain in conclusion that channels of communication is one of the most effective way in a relationship, and qualified managers have to pass over all stages of communication. Communication is a basic element in organizational structure and functioning. It is the key mechanism for achieving integration and coordination of the activities of specialized units at different levels in the organization. Organizational communication can be horizontal, upward, and downward: Horizontal (lateral) communication aims at linking related tasks, work units and divisions in the organization. The importance of horizontal communication increases with task specialization and diversity in organizational structure. The need for lateral or horizontal communication was first stressed by Fayol (2009), when he suggested a ‘gang plank’ between similar hierarchical positions. Downward communication provides information from higher levels to lower levels. Being superior-subordinate communication, it follows the chain of command through the line of authority. Downward communication can be of four types (Katz & Kahn, 2006): Namely; Communication designed to provide job rationale to produce understanding of the task and its relation to other organizational tasks; Communication about organizational procedures and practices; Feedback to the subordinate about his or her performance; and Communication to foster inculcation of organizational goals. Upward communication serves as a control system for the organization. The Need for Effective Communication In an Organization Effective Communication is a very important tool for organizational success. For organization’s management to perform its basic functions of organizing, directing, coordinating, etc, it must apply a system or means of communication that is very effective. The Management Study Guide states that Effective communication is a building block of successful organizations”. In other words, communication acts as organizational blood. To this end, Madlock (2008) opined that “organizations if planned strategically, internal communication will significantly enable the organization to achieve its goals more effectively” As such, effective communication in an organization, helps managers to perform their jobs and responsibilities very well and in a coordinated manner too.
4.0 Public Relation
Different definitions have been given to P.R., by various institutions and scholars. The British Institute of P.R. (IPR), which was formed in United Kingdom in 2008, adopted a definition of P.R. practice, which is still valid though with a slight amendment in November 2007. The Institute defines P.R. as: “The deliberately planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public”, practitioners in the field worldwide have generally accepted this particular definition. Another definition is that of Harlow B. F. who said that “P.R. is a distinctive management function which:
(i) Helps establish and maintain mutual line of communication. Understanding, acceptance and co-operation between an organization and its publics.
(ii) Involves the management of problems and issues
(iii) Helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion;
(iv) Defines and emphasizes the responsibility of management to serve the public interest.
(v) Sewing as an early waving system to help anticipate threats and;
(vi) Uses research and sound ethical communication techniques as its principal tools.
(vii) According to Cutlip and Center (2008:19) “Public Relations is a planned effort to influence opinion through good character and responsible performance based upon mutual satisfactory two-way communication”.
5.0 The relationship between communication and strategic public relations
Business strategy sets out the goals for and the direction of the organization for say three, five or twenty years. The factors that determine the success of any business strategy can largely be managed internally and the best strategies will be those that are immune to outside influences (Adams, 2009). Unfortunately good Public Relations is subject to so many external factors outside the control of a business that a dynamic PR strategy is required to maintain the image that fits the cooperate objectives. A “Dynamic PR Strategy” is one that maintains the organizations “Goals and Objectives” whilst effecting change in public understanding and perception (Grunig, L. et al., 2004). Such an “open systems” approach maintains the desired relationships with the target public groups on the basis of a reciprocal “output-feedback-adjustment” model. In practice this means that within an organization’s structure, whatever that might be, future plans and implementation programs are determined. The resulting goals and objectives are briefed directly to those within the organization so that everyone’s responsibilities and internal roles during the implementation phase of the plan are clearly understood. Within the context of an organization’s goals and objectives will be a set of desirable relationships. Employees, for example, need to identify with the Company’s objectives and feel motivated by the challenge to meet the organization’s goals. Shareholders, on the other hand need to feel reassured that the financial investment is secure. External communication to the target stakeholder groups is more difficult. Direct communication is not always possible and the only recourse is to use a multi-media approach consisting of personal contacts, newsgroups, industry associations and community networks. The information given to the stakeholder groups does not need to motivate them in the same manner as employees, but it is important to gain their support for your activities. It is imperative that you seek feedback from any such exercise, particularly where external communication is involved (Joel, 2006). Find out how your objectives and goals were received and most importantly, how they are perceived. Ascertain from this vital feedback whether the organization’s implementation programs in support of the overall objectives require modifications or changes to improve public perception. These adjustments to the Public Relations program, if designed correctly, should induce a change in behavior of the stakeholders. If, however, when the “feedback” is checked the desired change in behavior is not apparent, then go through the process again. The objectives and goals of the organization have not changed, only the PR program. Time devoted to this process ensuring that the stakeholder response is what is desired will inevitably pay dividends in the long term and may avoid a crisis. Furthermore following this PR process, as the business evolves so will the PR program. Good PR responds to change and the dynamic approach will ensure that your organization’s goals and objectives are shared throughout the company and supported by the stakeholders. H0: Communication does not affect strategic public relations
6.0 Research methodology
This section is designed to describe the procedures adopted in this research. The procedures involve the following: research design, population of the study, sample and sampling techniques, instrumentation, validation of the instrument, administration of the instrument and data analysis techniques.
6.1 Research Design
This study will be employ survey research design to carry out an assessment of communication as strategic public relations. According to Nworgu (2006), survey research design insurance that a group of people or items is studied by collecting analyzing data from only a few people or items considered to be representative of the entire group. It uses a questionnaire to determine the opinions, preferences, attitudes and perceptions of people about issues that concern them. A survey design is suitable for this research because it is going to make use of a questionnaire to elicit information from the respondents.
6.2 Population of the Study
The population of the study consists of about 100 respondents were selected based on their knowledge on assessment of communication as a strategic public relations.
6.3 Sample and Sampling Techniques
A sample of 40 was selected out of the population of 100 as stated above for the purpose of the study.
The instrument for this study is questionnaire constructed by the researcher which was drawn from the research questions. The questionnaire was coded.
6.5 Validation of the Instrument
The validation was determined by the expert judgment of the supervisor. The judgment were sought to guarantee that each of the items in the instrument measured what it was supposed to measure. The final draft was adjudged valid by project supervisor.
6.6 Administration of the Instrument
A total of 100 copies of the questionnaire will be administered to the respondents by hand but 45 were returned after the exercise.
6.7 Data Analysis Techniques
Data collected will be analyzed using frequency table, percentage and mean score analysis while the non parametric statistical test (Chi- square) was used to test the formulated hypothesis using SPSS (statistical package for social sciences).
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